Student Ombudsman

Office of the Student Ombudsman

The University of Wollongong is committed to the early and informal resolution of academic grievances.  The Office of the Student Ombudsman provides a place for impartial, confidential and formal review of these matters.  As a student you can expect to be treated respectfully, to be given a fair hearing and to receive equitable treatment.
the student ombudsman

The role of the Student Ombudsman is to independently review student academic grievances that have not been resolved informally or through the formal Faculty level process. The Student Ombudsman may hear academic grievances and complaints.  This avenue for resolution of concerns is open to undergraduate, postgraduate and HDR students.  

Who is the Student Ombudsman?

Sam Hardy

The Student Ombudsman is Associate Professor Samantha Hardy.

Sam’s background is in law, conflict management and dispute resolution, particularly in the workplace and university contexts.  She has degrees in arts, law, education and conflict resolution.  For the past eight years she has directed and taught in Masters programs in Conflict Management and Resolution, and before that she taught in law schools for eight years.  She also practised as a solicitor in Queensland for five years. 

Sam has been practising as a mediator and a conflict management coach since 1997.  She is an accredited mediator under the Australian National Mediator Accreditation Standards and is also certified as a transformative and narrative mediator in the United States.  She has also published widely in conflict resolution, including two books Dispute Resolution in Australia, 3rd Ed. (2014) co-authored with David Spencer, and Mediation for Lawyers (2010) co-authored with Olivia Rundle.  Sam’s current research is focused on conflict management in the Higher Degree Research student/supervisor relationship. 

what is an academic grievance?

An academic grievance is a complaint concerning a decision, act or omission of a member of UOW staff or committee which affects the student's academic experience. Academic Grievance Policies, individual Faculty grievance procedures and examples of complaints can be found at Student Complaints

when CAN an appeal be made to the student ombudsman?

Stage 3 of the five-stage academic grievance resolution process is the point at which students may appeal to the Student Ombudsman.  The process involves:

  • Stage 1 - an informal approach within the Faculty to the person directly involved.
  • Stage 2 - a formal approach following Faculty procedures that is lodged within ten (10) working days of the decision, act or omission leading to a grievance; Faculty grievance procedures can be found at Student Complaints
  • Stage 3 - where a resolution has not been achieved after all reasonable steps have been taken in the previous stages, an appeal to the Student Ombudsman should be submitted within ten (10) working days of receiving a response from the last person involved at the Faculty level.
what are the possible outcomes of an appeal to the student ombudsman? 

A number of outcomes are possible after all relevant documents have been examined and following interviews with the student and other relevant parties. The Student Ombudsman may determine that:

  • the matter will go no further if there are insufficient grounds for the grievance, or
  • a basis for negotiation exists between the student and relevant parties, or
  • due process has not been followed in which case a resolution involving the Faculty will be reached.

The student will be notified in writing of the Student Ombudsman's decision and, where relevant, of the process for continuing the appeal.

which matters will not be heard by the student ombudsman?

The Student Ombudsman will not hear matters that occurred at too remote a time to justify investigation. Concerns about other matters should go to the appropriate person or unit at UOW. These include the following:

  • Appeals against findings of academic misconduct under the Student Conduct Rules go to:
    • The Associate Dean or Head of Students of the faculty where the outcome is imposed by the Primary Investigation Officer (PIO);
    • The Academic Registrar where the outcome is imposed by the Faculty Investigation Committee; or
    • The Chief Administrative Officer, where the outcome is imposed by the Student Conduct Committee.
  • Appeals against findings of general misconduct under the Student Conduct Rules go to:
    • The Academic Registrar where the outcome is imposed by the Primary Investigation Officer (PIO); or
    • The Chief Administrative Officer, where the outcome is imposed by the Student Conduct Committee.
  • Changes to academic decisions related to the grading of assessment items are made at the Faculty level although the Student Ombudsman may investigate whether proper processes for grading and review were followed.
  • Matters in which the complainant is not a student of UOW may be raised, in writing, with the Executive Dean of the relevant Faculty or the Director responsible for a particular area.  For other assistance please contact the UOW switchboard on 4221-4355.
  • Student advocacy matters for current students go to Student Advocacy Services
how can an appeal be made to the student ombudsman?

To lodge a Stage 3 grievance, please click on the link below, complete the form, print out and attach your documentation. You can either email to or deliver to the Student Ombudsman's Office.

Stage 3 Academic Grievance Form for Students


The Student Ombudsman's Office is located in Room 19.G003 (Building 19, Ground Floor, north-east wing).  

Last reviewed: 17 February, 2015